Monday, July 23, 2012


An Anonymous writer left a provocative comment some weeks ago on one of my posts entitled "QUESTIONS CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS SHOULD ASK THEM...". Within that paragraph were some thoughts and questions with which you may want to engage.

The writer asked a question concerning the work of child protection social workers with respect to removing children from their parental homes. “The one question I can ask is why are there more removals per year (minimum 1-year incarceration) than there are supervision orders (3-6 month expiry)?That is an insightful question that might be met with the standard answer that time is of the essence in protecting a child and delay with legalities would jeopardize the child. Anticipating this platitude, the writer states, “The basic tenant of the CFCSA is ' less disruptive action before removal...' Then why do workers jump immediately to removal before even considering services and supervision orders first?”

Such an interesting analogy is then drawn and points made. “Social workers are as generic and interchangeable as fast food employees, but far more dangerous. Imagine a burger-flipper deciding for the customer (a child) by viewing their physical appearance (too fat?) they change the order and deliver a healthy salad instead. This event would become a national news story and become viral on Youtube if it happened.

The writer sounds like someone who is either interested enough in this subject to take some initiative or is involved with the Ministry for personal reasons. “I asked workers some of these questions. The generic answer is 'we do what we do to keep your children safe according to the CFCSA.' Under that umbrella, no matter WHAT they do, they consider is 'good' for the child. (Parent's, well, that is another story. They are essentially convicted perpetrators, no longer parents if social workers have been assigned to their case.)”

Then the writer draws a comparison between social work and school teaching with regard to ratio comparatives to children as well as the time that each professional spends with a child. “There is practically a 1:1 relationship to a removed child (and associated family members) and a social worker employee in B.C. (2,600 workers in B.C., and 3,000 children removed yearly). There are 3,300 foster homes. Social worker time is spent preparing for removal, or dealing with the aftermath of removal and preparing for court and arranging visitations. Once children are permanently in custody, or long periods of time elapse between court date, social worker interaction is very much reduced.  The teacher-child ratio is very much different case. There are 550,000 students in B.C. and 30,000 teachers. Yet, teachers spend at least 5 hours each weekday with students. Social workers interact no more than a few minutes a week with parent or child.

The question to these workers that I would be asking is, exactly what are they doing with their time if it is not spending that with the people they purport to serve?

Then the writer draws personal conclusions, one being explanatory and the last being understandably sardonic.
My thought is these workers DO ask themselves these questions continuously. They know the correct answer to provide, so the exercise of their employment is to somehow make it appear the duty they are charged with is so vitally important to our society, the annoying details of how they go about that task becomes a distant secondary consideration.

So, the silent answer to all these questions is, you had better shut up and let them do their jobs. That primary job is removing and "caring" for children at exorbitant cost to the public.’

Friday, July 20, 2012


I want to introduce you to Alison. She has written here before, a long time ago, actually Dec 12, 2010. It was a piece entitled "IN ALISON'S OWN WORDS / Part 396 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne 

Alison was not directly related to the case of Zabeth and Paul Bayne and their desperate but relentless endeavour to recover their four children so that they could live their lives as a family. Alison showed interest in the Baynes. Alison was completing her training to qualify as a social worker for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the same Ministry that was holding the four Bayne children pending the outcome of a court case and then pending the cooperative interaction between MCFD and the Baynes as ordered by Judge Crabtree. Alison is one of numerous reasons why I hold a balanced approach to my assessment of this Ministry. As critical of the MCFD as I believe I have reason be, there is a need for vulnerable and helpless children to be protected from environments, conditions and people who threaten their safety and thriving survival. Alison affords the confidence that I require to know that there are dependable people who do work with parents for the best outcomes of children within the contexts of improved families. She restores my trust in a government agency being able to discern parental competency and integrity as opposed to genuine risk for children. 

She recently wrote a comment in response to a post that I put up on SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2012, entitled QUESTIONS CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES

I read her words and I know that this deserves to be more widely read so I am placing it here as a post. 

She has written what follows. It is worth a careful read. Thank you Alison.
"Alison has left a new comment on your post "QUESTIONS CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS SHOULD ASK THEM...": 
Interesting list of questions, however they're not exactly the questions I consider when working with families in a protective capacity. My questions are informed by Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards' work, Signs of Safety ( I would edit your list of questions as follows:
1. What is my distinctive role in this child's life? In other words, why am I here?
What's the danger statement? What was the unsafe thing that happened that we don't want to see happen again? This is more about the caregiver than the child.
2. What am I observing and to what am I listening as I monitor this case, this family, and the interplay of family members? What can I smell or perceive that may call for a possible assessment and inform that assessment. What dangers are apparent or what hygiene issues meet my eye?
I'm done with danger & risks by now. Now I'm asking, what are the exceptions to risk in this family? What are the strengths, how do they already come up with solutions?
3. Are there other workers who have been involved in this case? If there were some others, what were their observations and what do the case files already indicate? Can other workers assist my understanding with relevant information?
Sure, past workers interpretations are important, but more important to me is, how did the family, the community experience those other workers? Did the caregivers find the other workers helpful? If not, maybe I want to form my own opinion, independently of past negative biases. Also, maybe the family doesn't have the same problem as in the past, or it's less severe. Maybe the children are older now.
4. If I decide that there is cause for concern in this case, what are the things that I believe require change in order to relieve the concern? What action plan transparent to all the adults involved, can result in the best outcome and what time frame is best?
This is a good premise for ongoing work with the family, but it's missing the family's input, other than it be transparent to them. What changes can we agree on? What actions does the family want to take? If the family doesn't agree, how could there possibly be lasting change? I think of this as aligning with the family.  
I did my Signs of Safety training with Ktunaxa Kinbasket CFSS, from the Cranbrook area ( 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Ayn Van Dyk as a small girl
Her daddy Derek and her mommy Aime, love this little girl more than words have the ability to express.

They have been without her for more than one year now. She is is the custody and care of the B.C. Ministry of Children for no good reason ... no valid reason ... but it is legal. MCFD has legislation on its side.

MCFD acted in accordance with its mandate to protect children. It's credo is to act in the best interests of the child.

That is why on June 16, 2011 MCFD social workers concluded it was the appropriate action to remove this child from her father's home. I believe it was entirely unnecessary to do this. No attempt was made of which I am aware, to consult with Derek to determine his capacity to parent three children, two of whom are autistic. He had been doing this since the children were younger and he and Aime had parted ways maritally. Aime agreed to his parental care and has affirmed in numerous ways, her trust in his care of their children.

Does a child sometimes wander away from a parent or from the family home? Do you think that an autistic child without the normal intellectual restraints and boundaries might tend to wander? Exactly. And Ayn did. June 12, 2011 was the day she wandered from her family back yard, scaled the fence and walked into a neighbour's yard. It took three hours for RCMP searchers to locate her when Derek became concerned enough to ask for their assistance. She was returned to him and it was a safe and happy reunion, until four days later when the MCFD showed up at her school and apprehended Ayn.

You would think that a sophisticated, well-funded and trained arm of the government would be able to straighten this case out expeditiously in order to preserve the loving family for this child. Instead, she was held for months until her tenth birthday arrived and still she was not permitted to return to her home or her father and then more months went by until a year has passed. Don't for a moment think that the ordeal is over for this family. Derek and Aime are waiting until December 2012 for the start of a court case at which a provincial judge will listen to the arguments of an MCFD appointed lawyer determined perhaps to retain this child indefinitely or forever. It is far beyond reasonable. It is unjust. It pushes the borders of illegality to manage authority over people's lives with such disregard for decency and compassion.

This Ministry could be helping the father, aiding the family, providing resources and support and encouragement rather than disrupting, dissecting and perhaps destroying the family. It is time for the Premier and for the Liberal Party of this Province to look at this case with a view to living up to its publicized claim to be supportive of the Family as a governing priority.

Monday, July 9, 2012


This is not ‘new’ news but it is informative and only a few weeks old.

The Liberal government spent a minimum of $182 million dollars on a computer Case Management system. It was installed and it went live on April 1st. The previous software was thirty years old and by every assessment was antiquated and inadequate. One would think that with the criticism that has been directed at the Ministry of Children and Family Development alleging incompetence and poor case management for countless reasons, that the promised change would be precisely that which is needed right now. Wrong!
It is a system after all. It was not specifically designed for MCFD or for Child Welfare case management for that matter. Oh, Oh! Since it’s inauguration design flaws have been immediately encountered and flagged and implementation flaws have frustrated front-line social workers and in some cases overwhelmed them. Social workers were given almost no time to learn this computerized system which appears to be more complicated than anyone imagined. E-Learning was prescribed as the model by which social workers could educate themselves but not with time off to accommodate that responsibility. Rather, they were to fit this duty into their busy schedules. This is inadequate. Further, there were only 17 online training modules which is woefully insufficient.
By all reports these glitches are not the expected anomalies of a new system but rather there are fundamental flaws with both design and implementation. Over 2000 social workers are campaigning to have the government scrap this new system and begin again. It is allegedly responsible already for some high risk incidents. Reports have been received that work loads have actually increased for workers with regard to certain aspects of their jobs. Social workers have left work distraught and in tears. The Children’s Deputy Minister, Stephen Brown is promising to work on improvements by the end of summer. He denies that the system is worse than what the Ministry used before and expresses not knowledge of safety-related incidents. But he does admit that he has heard from staff who are stressed by the software and training provisions.